UBC – Okanagan Conference

PictureLast weekend I attended the UBC Okagagan  Learning conference on Reflecting on Scholarly Approaches. The conference was well organized, well attended and an excellent opportunity for learning. Overall themes were collaboration, innovation, reflection and engagement. I thought that I would take some time and reflect on some of the sessions I attended, and what key ideas I will take away. Thus modeling some of what I was shown. Plus, if I record them here, I will know where to find them again!

PictureKeynote: Dr. Marsha Lovett on ‘How Learning Works: Knowledge and Application‘ (the link is a link to a similar talk as ours was not recorded). She spoke from her book. She sees teaching as both an art and a science. The three principles: 1. Prior Knowledge helps or hinders learning. 2. How students organize knowledge influences how they learn. 3. How development of mastery works.

PictureOne very thought that I will take away is the importance of linking knowledge. Interconnections between concept nodes increase the ability for deep learning and retention. When students have few connections, they often cannot see the ‘point’ of what they are learning. Educators need to help with this. A course concept map can be developed. A basic framework given for topics, getting them to fill in the connections and concepts. I will have to think about how to do this online.


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Session: LOOC’s
I have to admit, I am apprehensive about MOOC‘s (Massive Open Online Courses). I have not tried one. I am resistant to it currently but, as I am studying about online learning right now, I thought I would check out LOOC’s. LOOC means Local Open Online Learning. UBC has had a few LOOC’s. They are billed as place based education with local content and global relevance. Badges (gamification) are awarded.  While most students came from the local area, there were learners from all over the world. Here is a link to their video: LOOC: Adventures in Applied Sustainability. I think I would participate in a LOOC.

Session: Address the needs of today’s learner: A ‘modified’ flipped    approach

 In  class, students frantically write down the words of wisdom from the professor or PowerPoint. The problem? In classes that require a practical demonstration of knowledge like in nursing, math or physics, students do not get to practice. As the presenters said, it doesn’t make sense for the coach to run the plays, the players need practice. Why not put the theory and learning before class so time can be spent practicing.
For success need: Faculty development, Goals & objectives, Tools, IT support.
Suggestions: Have as much ready ahead of time as possible. Make sure anything mandatory, especially pre-class learning, is worth marks. Worksheets to guide learning can be helpful and encourage students to use the book they bought!
This is something I am slooowly working on doing. I am attempting this in a lesson in two week. Hopefully it works!

PictureSession: Using Technology & Innovation: Making assignments matter

  • Distance Ed is twice as much work as regular.
  • Teach how to be a good consumer of information.
  • Turn assignments around so students create something useful as they will see the value in creating it. The instructor can be immersed as a participant in a whole class project – easier to evaluate.
MERLOT was recommended as a peer reviewed site to get interesting assignments and lessons. After the conference, I took a look. I really struggled with the search engine. I liked how detailed it was but I was constantly getting too many or too few results. While the material is peer reviewed, it wasn’t always helpful or suitable. I am not sure that I would use it.


Session: Creating Video Resources to Support Teaching & Learning in a Flexible Learning Environment
This topic goes hand in hand with flipping a classroom. I discovered that there is quite a large learning curve to doing this. Thankfully the Centre at VIU can support me in this. There is also an initial large time commitment.  Video lectures are effective both for students who know a topic (and can skip material) and those who need a slower pace or additional time (as they can watch as much as they need). The easiest way to start is to start is to create a PowerPoint with a voice recording. It a good idea to give questions or a worksheet for use during the presentation.
Session: Strategies to Empower & Engage Adult Learners

  1. Increase interaction during class. Brains need to process every 10 – 15 minutes. “Chunk & Chew
  2. Include Individual exploration opportunities. What is the student’s passion? What topic will they engage in? This allows them to be in the ‘flow’
  3. Build collaborative and real world assignments
  4. Let students choose how to demonstrate their understanding
  5. Invite students to provide input into the course design. Perhaps have a ‘loose outline’ where collaboratively they determine how much each aspect is worth.
Session: Engaging & Empowering Students

  1. Engage students in learning
  2. Teach students how to learn. For example: Reflection on a test. “How did I study? What worked & didn’t work?” Metacognition
  3. Encourage student reflection
  4. Motivate students by sharing power. Get students to do the work themselves
  5. Encourage Collaboration.


Session: Transforming Learning Through Experiential Learning
“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow” John Dewey. This quote resonates with me as the environment that we are living in now, is very different from before. We need to teach differently than we ourselves learned.
The presenters of this session focused on Kolb’s Cycle of Experiential Learning. Reflection is an important piece to the model. For online learning, which is changing so much, reflection is a very important aspect.

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